Roots of the current Roanoke College men’s lacrosse team go back to 1989 and not just because Bill Pilat was making his debut as head coach.
One of his first recruits was James Kammerman out of Norwalk (Connecticut) High School.
More than 30 years later, Pilat is still enjoying the rewards.
The leading scorer on this year’s team is Kammerman’s son, Luke, a Roanoke sophomore who has a team-high 100 points on 46 goals and 54 assists heading into the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships.
Third-seeded Roanoke is slated to play Tuesday against the winner of an earlier meeting between the Nos. 6 and 7 seeds.
One way or another, the future is bright for the Maroons, who will be adding another Kammerman son, Julian, who is scheduled to enroll at Roanoke in the fall.
Speed is an attribute for both Kammerman brothers, each of whom took a postgraduate year before heading to their dad’s alma mater.
“He wanted them to come, which made me feel really proud because he wanted them to have the same experience here that he had,” Pilat said. That’s the first time that I’d had the son of a player I’d coached.”
Luke Kammerman hit the ground running when he was a freshman for the Maroons in 2020-21, when he started each of Roanoke’s nine games during a season that was virtually cut in half by the coronavirus. He finished with 40 points, broken down into 15 goals and 25 assists.
“I had been down there around 2008 or 2010 for an alumni weekend,” said Luke Kammerman, whose family resides in Trumbull, Connecticut, “and ever since then, I’ve wanted to try and come down here. I think I saw a game with Randolph-Macon and said, ‘This is really cool.’
“As I progressed through my high school career, I got some pretty good looks, [including] some Division I looks but I knew in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t have an impact as quickly as I could here.”
It’s been more than that.
“I had set my goals for myself coming in here that were pretty high,” he said. “I told my coaches and they definitely pushed me to achieve them. I’ve achieved some of them already and I’m looking to achieve more.”
Roanoke has to be delighted about the prospects of two Kammerman brothers being on the field together, although that wasn’t always the plan.
“He had looks from other schools,” Luke said of his younger brother, “but with me going here and our dad having played here, it was sort of a no-brainer. I knew Coach Pilat before I even came here.”
The Kammerman brothers’ father was known for his quickness. Luke Kammerman is known for his left-handed howitzer.
“Not too many people say, ‘Leave it your left hand as much as you can,'” he said, “The reason I think I’m more successful with my left hand, rather than using both, is because I’ve found ways to set up my left hand without making it look as if I’m using my left hand.”
Listen to him for any length and it’s easy to see he’s a technician.
In high school, he was contacted by Division I schools such as Vermont and Bryant in the Connecticut area where he lived but he made a conscious decision to go the D-III route. One of Roanoke’s rivals, Christopher Newport, was among the first programs to pursue him.
“I don’t think it was a lack of confidence,” he said of possible Division I overtures. “It was just the quantity of kids at the D-I level. Although I thought I was good enough to play, I wanted to be good enough to have a great impact.”
Given his numbers to this point, almost anything is possible.
“As for predictions for the future, we have a pretty young team now,” he said. “We’re junior and sophomore heavy and that’s actually pretty good for the future because we’re going to be junior and senior heavy next year, which is what veteran teams are all about.
“It was our goal to finish in the top 25 before the season. I don’t think we’re going to do that but we’re definitely making a name for ourselves.”